It was a morning like any other morning during that time in my life. I’m sure I woke up early, probably spent time reading or surfing the internet before getting my daughter up and ready for school. I’m not sure if I dropped her off at school that morning or if she took the school bus, but what I am certain of, is that I was in no hurry to get to work. Didn’t really like the job I had at that time working for an accessories company but I recall they were paying me very good money at the time to do what I could do in my sleep.
I know I caught a late train from the Mount Kisco train station, probably a 9:30 AM that would have gotten me into Grand Central sometime around 10:30 AM.
What I remember as I arrived in the station was that there were a lot of people entering the station and going back to where I was coming from. I really didn’t think much of it because I wasn’t usually as late as I was this particular morning. I chalked it up to me not knowing what the norm was at this time of day and didn’t really think anything of it.
When I entered the street and started my walk to my office there were busy New Yorkers doing what New Yorkers do…scurrying around en route to their perpetual busy lives. My offices at the time were located at 33rd street and 5th Avenue, right across from the Empire State Building.
I didn’t have a notion that anything was amiss until I entered my building and the security guard mentioned to me that there is a something going on downtown at the world trade buildings. I walk back to the corner and look south as both building could be seen from this vantage point. I noticed that, yes, there was a fire. I go back to my building go to my office and turned on my computer to see if I could get any additional information on what was going on. For some reason the computer was slower than usual that morning. The computer finally turns on and AOL news confirms what I was told by the security guard and later saw…that there was a fire of some sort.
I walk around the office to see if anyone had any additional information. No one did but they were all waiting to hear from the owners if we would remain open for the day or be sent home. I went back to my office and made my own corporate decision to go back home. I packed up my briefcase and headed back out to the street.
As I am walking back to the train station I turn around to look back downtown and that is when it dawns on me that only one of the buildings are standing. I start walking a little faster and now I notice that there are many more people on the street, some looking totally normal and other with some type of dust or dirt on their clothing.
As I approach Grand Central I notice that there is a very noticeable police presence. They are telling all of us gathered around the entrances that all train service has been suspended. But there is obvious confusion. Everyone is talking, everyone is confused, and none of us know where to go or what to do. At that time cell phones were not the big thing that they are today but everyone that had one was on their phone. You could hear from the one sided conversations that they were all trying to connect with their families and friends…many trying to figure out where to go.
My friend Cynthia was alive then and she was the closest place that I could walk to as she lived at 23rd street right off the East River. I started walking toward the River as I didn’t know where else to go. As I am walking I pass a restaurant that was open and I noticed that there was a TV that was broadcasting what was going on. There were only a handful of people inside maybe five or six but the TV acted as a magnet for me as I needed desperately to know what was going on.
I went inside; I’m not sure what I might have ordered to drink that day as I watched the news broadcast. I’m sure I talked to those around me but I also know the TV had my undivided attention. As we are watching the news in real time we witness the collapse of the 2nd building the “North” Tower. I remember the tears starting slowly at first and then heard myself sobbing softly. I knew no one that worked in the tower, had no current connection with the towers but the emotions I felt that day is like nothing I’ve felt since nor hope to ever feel.
After watching all I could watch it became apparent to all in the restaurant that day with me that we needed to get out of the city. But where to go? I was told no more trains were leaving, I could walk to Cynthia’s house but she lived in a high-rise and the thought at the time was that all high-rise buildings in the city were suspect on that day. I was prepared to walk all the way to Bedford if I had to that day. I decided that I would walk back to the train station to see what the latest was and as luck would have it apparently now the trains were running. So I along with others were permitted to enter the station but as we are making it to our trains there is an announcement that these will be the last train to depart as the station will once again be shutting down.
The train was packed, standing room only. But with all those people on the train it was quieter than most churches I’ve been in. Everyone was in disbelief but I however was the only person crying. I don’t know why I was crying and I remember more than one person stopping to ask me if I knew anyone that worked in the towers…I didn’t but all could think of was the many mothers and fathers who would not be returning home this day, how such a beautiful sunny day could turn into such a sad sad day.
I know I had a cell phone and I know I was not successful in getting through to the gentleman I was dating at the time. But I remember arriving at the train station and getting in my car and driving home to find him there with my daughter waiting for me. He knew where I worked and was concerned that if something happened to me that no one would be there for my daughter. I was all cried out by the time I got home but the rest of the day was spent in front of the TV watching the various news programs. This coverage went on for weeks. But even with all the coverage it did not reduce the significance of what we all went through that day. It meant we were mortal, the all powerful United States of America was vulnerable and we had taken a bullet straight to our heart…New York City.
Many died that day in New York, Washington and in a remote farmland in Pennsylvania but we all died a little on that day a little bit of that spark of hope that we all have as Americans was taken away on that most beautiful and sunny day. When I cry now on this day and all the nine that have passed since the event, I still cry for all those that perish but I also cry for all of us left behind for what we all lost on that day.